Since the invention of the Internet, cell phones, laptops, television and more, our communication has increased significantly. Research done by the University of Pennsylvania found that Americans spend an average of 10 hours daily on technology.
Whether it be watching Netflix, working on school or participating in Zoom calls, this amount of technological communication is alarming. How does this time spent on technology affect our ability to connect with people? Social media can be a wonderful tool to grow closer to friends and family; however, it is also often an excuse due to uncomfortability in silence, comfort in our bubbles and hesitancy to fully invest energy.
The usual assumption of solitude is hysterical. Our thoughts go to a bald man in the mountains sitting criss-crossed, hands folded on a long journey emptying the mind. After living through months of solitude due to COVID-19 regulations, our definition hopefully has expanded. So many of us, introverted and extroverted, were seeking ways to fill the void created by the lack of physical socialization. Omegle, Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix Party, Zooms and TikTok are just a few examples of platforms that soared in usage for the ever-lonely growing population.
Shortly following, we were also researching blue-light glasses, headache cures and yoga YouTube channels because of the amount of time spent sitting in front of screens. Why not just give your eyes a rest and look to God’s creation? Scripture teaches valuable lessons about solitude, such as Jesus often going into solitude to be with God. If we stopped and listened in the silence, we could learn a lot about ourselves, be it by analyzing our opinions or observing the world around us.
As Christians, we should be prepared to be uncomfortable. Matthew 28 preaches a powerful message, calling us to extend ourselves to the world and proclaim the name of Jesus. We hear a lot about lukewarm Christians and how we should be on fire for Jesus, but how many of us are truly willing? This compelling message should convince us that being a Christ follower means following into the discomfort. We grow when we experience, and that often requires us to become uncomfortable. Reaching out to friends and fostering relationships with new people provides opportunities to grow and engage in the family of followers.
I’m not trying to sugarcoat things: Relationships are messy. We are flawed people and have good days and bad days. There’s a beauty in our individuality, but it is exhausting to invest time in people we might not initially click with. We don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but social media can cause us to create distance from people. With screens dividing us, we sometimes believe we are able to hide and create excuses to not bond with others. Instead of this mentality, why not embrace individuals like Jesus did with the woman at the well? Who knows, you might make a new friend.
As Christians, I believe we are called to use solitude as a time to learn, expand outside our bubbles and not be afraid of investing in others. We learn a lot from others and experiences, and we are not living out our godly potential by hiding behind technology.